We can't drive… 55
Take our license, all that jive
The Red Rocker Sammy Hagar simply couldn't drive in Iowa,
and based on speed limit legislation soon to be debated
in the Iowa House, we are not so sure we can much longer
either. At least not legally.
Rep. Jack Gonzales, D-Carroll, wonders why automobile manufacturers are allowed to build cars that knowingly exceed the speed limit. And, he asks, why does our state allow the sale of cars that are designed to break the law? He wants to see legislation passed that will prevent vehicles from being able to exceed the designated speed limit. And it just might happen.
Gonzales first needs to understand the complexity of the speed limits in Iowa as they exist today. Our rural interstates currently have speed limits of 70 mph with no distinction made between passenger cars and trucks. Urban interstate speed limits are usually set at 65 mph with 55 mph speed limits in the cities, such as Interstate Highway 235 here in Des Moines. However, the suburban area on I-235 has a speed limit of 60 mph, with 55 mph still the law for the downtown area. Like us, you may have learned this the hard way.
Heading to the rural area, non-interstate divided highways in Iowa have speed limits of 65 mph with speeds dropping to 55 mph in urban areas. Two lane rural state and county highways are at 55 mph.
With all these speed limits in place, one has to wonder how any legislation - or any device - could implement a limit on how fast a motor vehicle can operate.
Gonzales, or "Speedy" as we prefer to call him, proposes that all automobiles sold in Iowa be retrofitted with devices that will restrict their speeds to the legal limit. Such units have been installed in buses and trucks in Jerusalem since 2005, Gonzales claims, and have effectively reduced road accidents there.
Closer to home, a Georgia Injury Law Blog reported in January that the idea of using speed limiting devices to restrict speed limits on commercial trucks "has been floating around for a while now." The blog claims that in 2006, the American Trucking Association petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mandate 68 mph speed limiting devices on all trucks weighing 20,000 pounds or more. In January, NHTSA announced that it would initiate a rule aimed at getting these devices installed in all trucks with a stated goal to minimize the risk of speed-related truck accidents and avoid wrongful deaths.
Gonzales apparently loves this idea but wants to take it beyond commercial trucks and apply it to your Ford Taurus, Honda Civic or any other motor vehicle purchased in Iowa.
We think he's nuts, and here's why.
We Iowans have a need for speed. It's just that simple.
There's no need to castrate some of America's finest vehicles just because they are purchased in our state, essentially removing every ounce of vehicular testosterone they have. Capping the speed of a Corvette is like being served a 20 ounce T-Bone and being told you can only eat half of it. It would be cruel and inhumane punishment.
A better solution would be to focus on increasing the minimum speed limits in our state. Iowa's rural interstates have a minimum speed limit of 40 mph. Other four-lane divided rural highways are signed at 65 mph, with no minimum speed so as to allow slow-moving farm vehicles to use the road, too.
We fully realize that Gonzales' Farmall 300 couldn't exceed 40 mph, and that's exactly why we want the law changed to a minimum of 50 mph. Let's make sure those farmers stay in the fields and off the roads. And that goes for the blue hairs, too. If Grandma can't effectively press the accelerator enough to get up to 50 mph, then get her out of the Buick and into a Hoveround. Enough is enough.
So get real, Gonzales, and don't force Iowa automobiles to be neutered. You, on the other hand, might want to give it a try. APRIL FOOLS